ORANGE City Council has a plan to stop the Orange Function Centre running at a $206,000 yearly loss, but small businesses may get hurt in the process.
Under the proposal, which will be exhibited for 28 days, council is considering altering its itinerant trading policy so visiting merchants can make use of the function centre.
That would open the door for wholesalers to use the centre, at the discretion of council general manager Garry Styles.
The issue was hotly debated during Tuesday night’s council meeting.
Councillor Neil Jones said he had concerns about businesses from Sydney coming to Orange to hold a trade fair and taking customers away from small businesses.
“I’d be concerned if a computer wholesaler from Sydney came up here and made a killing,” he said.
“It’s hard enough for small businesses to compete with the likes of big companies such as Harvey Norman and we don’t want to create more competition for small businesses.”
Some of the ideas thrown around at the meeting included a provision that a trade fair must have one Orange business in attendance and that the area could be re-zoned.
On average, the Orange Function Centre is used 53 days a year and costs council about $53,000 a year in maintenance.
There are also staffing costs.
In a report submitted to council by the director of Community and Cultural Services Scott Maunder, the reason for some of the losses over the last five years was because of the construction of the Kinross Wolaroi School hall.
The report said events previously booked by Kinross were no longer conducted at the function centre and the Kinross hall was competition for the function centre because events such as the Charles Sturt University graduation had been held at the hall instead of the function centre.
Mr Maunder also said in the report many end of year events that had been booked were alcohol-free and reduced the potential income for council.
The proposal will be on display for public comment for 28 days and is expected to be advertised within the next week.